But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.2 Corinthians 12:9-10 (ESV)
This is one of those verses that always frustrated me. I couldn’t figure it out. Delight in my weaknesses? When I’m weak, I’m strong? How is that?
For a long time, I loathed my weaknesses. I wish I could be better, do better. I fled from the first sight of pain and trouble. It wasn’t something I wanted to handle.
Many people are like this, aren’t they? We live in a world where people say, “Only the strongest will survive.” People (particularly men) should be “strong” at all times. They scorn weakness and prize independence. That leaves us with a broken world clinging to a false image of strength.
It was until recently that I finally realized what this verse meant. Take Paul, the man through whom the Holy Spirit wrote these words. We often perceive him as a strong, bold man of God. But would Paul agree with that statement? Sure, he had reason to boast. Of himself he says,
If someone else thinks they have reasons to put confidence in the flesh, I have more: circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; in regard to the law, a Pharisee; as for zeal, persecuting the church; as for righteousness based on the law, faultless.Philippians 3:4-6
He goes on to say,
Whatever anyone else dares to boast about—I am speaking as a fool—I also dare to boast about. Are they Hebrews? So am I. Are they Israelites? So am I. Are they Abraham’s descendants? So am I. Are they servants of Christ? (I am out of my mind to talk like this.) I am more. I have worked much harder, been in prison more frequently, been flogged more severely, and been exposed to death again and again. Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was pelted with stones, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea, I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my fellow Jews, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false believers. I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked. Besides everything else, I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches. Who is weak, and I do not feel weak? Who is led into sin, and I do not inwardly burn?
Then he says this:
If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness.2 Corinthians 11:21-30
Paul takes no pride in the things that the world does! Not only does his admit his weaknesses and acknowledge his troubles, but he is content with them! How can that be? How can we, too, learn not to despise our weaknesses?
One way is realizing that, yes, it is okay to be weak. You don’t have to be strong all the time. No one is perfect. Not those celebrities. Not those Instagram models you follow. Not you. Not me. We all have weaknesses and things that we want to hide; things that break our hearts. We all have insecurities. We all fall short. We can’t do everything on our own.
That can be hard to admit in a society with such impossible expectations. It takes honest self-reflection and humility. Sometimes, as with me, it takes a storm or that certain sin you can’t seem to beat to realize it. Yes, I can’t do this on my own. I’m not strong enough. That’s okay to admit it. Won’t you tell it to God? Won’t you bring it to Him? Humble yourself and confess, “God, I can’t do this on my own. I’m tired of trying. I need Your strength.”
Then, something changes. Maybe you don’t realize it at first. It isn’t always instantaneous. But when you admit your weakness, you give opportunity for His strength to shine through. That’s why Paul can delight in weakness and trial. He saw they served as tremendous opportunities. If you allow them, your troubles and weaknesses can serve as a vessel for His glory. They can be the means by which God shows His love and faithfulness on your behalf. Yes, even through the messiness of life!
Don’t run from your weakness. Don’t try to bury it and hide it. When we are in Christ, there is no need to pretend we are something we aren’t. We need only bring the matter to God, and He will take care of it. He will provide strength and grace that is more than enough for us. When you are weak, then you find strength. His strength. You can’t do this alone, and you don’t have to. God stands ever ready to help you through every difficult situation life brings yo
So, don’t be ashamed of your weakness. Rather, let it push you back to the Father, who is your strength.